- Oboist Jennifer Stucki offers some suggestions and resources for keeping a reed log.
- Clarinetist Diana Haskell shares ideas on helping students avoid injury.
- Flutist Roderick Seed explains a comprehensive method for memorizing music.
- Anne Norman reports on the 2018 World Shakuhachi Festival.
- Oboist Nuria Cabezas demonstrates hand and finger stretches.
Some highlights from the woodwind blogosphere in December:
- Cate Hummel discusses the qualities of a good beginner-level flute. Good advice for those willing to do their homework; not a glib list of models to buy (which would just go out of date quickly anyway).
- Bassoonist Cayla Bellamy finds inspiration to attempt the impossible.
- Saxophonist Bill Plake prefers a good teacher (or good self-teaching) over a rigid “method.”
- Doubler “ericdano” shares a list of favorite blogs (sort of jazz-saxophone-oriented) from the past year. Thanks for the mention!
- The always-insightful Barry Stees shares a tip for diagnosing and fixing (cheaply and easily!) a common bassoon defect.
- Sherman Friedland discusses the first three notes of the Debussy clarinet rhapsody (and more).
- “Komuso Lady” from A Shakuhachi Journey muses on intonation.
My doctoral dissertation is now available online through the University of Georgia library:
It was completed in 2009 so some things are already out of date. Also, lately I’m trying to steer away from the term “ethnic” instruments (“world” instruments seems slightly less problematic until I can find a better solution).
Woodwind doubling is the practice of playing instruments from more than one woodwind family. In musical theater and film music, woodwind doublers are valuable for their ability to produce the sounds of a varied woodwind section for a fraction of the cost of hiring a specialist musician to play each instrument.
Since the 1990’s, composers and orchestrators in musical theater and film scoring have shown increased interest in instrumental sounds from outside the traditional symphony orchestra. Many have featured folk, ethnic, or period instruments as solo instruments, bringing authentic sounds to scenes set in faraway locations or historical periods, giving an exotic flair to fictional locales, or simply adding new colors to the usual palette of instrumental sounds.
Composers of film and theater scores have used ethnic woodwinds, in particular, in their scoring. To meet the demand for ethnic woodwind sounds, many prominent woodwind doublers on Broadway and in Hollywood have adopted these instruments, in addition to their usual arrays of modern Western instruments.
Eight folk, ethnic, and period woodwinds recently employed in film and theater scoring have been selected for study in this document: bamboo flutes (especially the Indian bansuri and flutes used by some flutists in Irish traditional music), the Chinese dizi, the Armenian duduk, the Native American flute, the panflutes of Romania and South America, the pennywhistle, the recorder, and the Japanese shakuhachi.
For each instrument, a representative example of use in theater or film music has been selected and transcribed from a commercial audio recording. Each transcription is discussed with emphasis on demands placed upon the ethnic woodwind musician. Additional discussion of each instrument includes suggestions for purchasing instruments, fingering charts, description of playing technique, description of instrument-specific performance practices, discussion of various sizes and/or keys of each instrument, discussion of instrument-specific notation practices, annotated bibliographies of available pedagogical materials, lists of representative recordings (including authentic ethnic music and other music), and information on relevant organizations and associations of professional or amateur musicians.
Recommended reading from the woodwind blogs in March:
- “Komuso Lady” at A Shakuhachi Journey blogs about tsu meri difficulties. Even for players of “modern” Western woodwinds, there are good thoughts here on getting to know your instrument and its tendencies intimately.
- Betsy Sturdevant offers some commentary and tips on playing bassoon 1 on the Firebird Suite.
- Patty Mitchell shares some reed advice for oboe students.
- At the “MetOrchestraMusicians” blog, a nice infographic about reeds. (Hat-tip to Patty Mitchell for this one.)
- Saxophonist Timothy Owen explains his reed preparation and finishing process.
- Clarinetist Adam Berkowitz offers some insightful responses and expansions to my recent blog post about uncompensated gigs.
- Saxophonist Bill Plake keeps a level head about equipment (suitable for players of all instruments).